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UPS design criteria and selection

UPS design criteria and selection

An UPS system is an alternate or backup source of power with the electric utility company being the primary source. The UPS provides protection of load against line frequency variations, elimination of power line noise and voltage transients, voltage regulation, and uninterruptible power for critical loads during failures of normal utility source. An UPS can be considered a source of standby power or emergency power depending on the nature of the critical loads. The amount of power that the UPS must supply also depends on these specific needs.

These needs can include emergency lighting for evacuation, emergency perimeter lighting for security, orderly shut down of manufacturing or computer operations, continued operation of life support or critical medical equipment, safe operation of equipment during sags and brownouts, and a combination of the preceding needs.

The UPS selection process involves several steps as discussed briefly here.

Determine need

Prior to selecting the UPS it is necessary to determine the need. The types of loads may determine whether local, state, or federal laws mandate the incorporation of an UPS. An UPS may be needed for a variety of purposes such as lighting, startup power, transportation, mechanical utility systems, heating, refrigeration, production, fire protection, space conditioning, data processing, communication, life support, or signal circuits.

Some facilities need an UPS for more than one purpose. It is important to determine the acceptable delay between loss of primary power and availability of UPS power, the length of time that emergency or backup power is required, and the criticality of the load that the UPS must bear. All of these factors play into the sizing of the UPS and the selection of the type of the UPS.

Determine safety

It must be determined if the safety of the selected UPS is acceptable. The UPS may have safety issues such as hydrogen accumulation from batteries, or noise pollution from solid-state equipment or rotating equipment. These issues may be addressed through proper precautions or may require a selection of a different UPS.

Determine availability

The availability of the selected UPS must be acceptable. The criticality of the loads will determine the necessary availability of the UPS. The availability of an UPS may be improved by using different configurations to provide redundancy. It should be noted that the C4ISR facilities require a reliability level of 99.9999 percent.

Determine maintainability

The selected UPS must be maintainable. Maintenance of the unit is important in assuring the unit’s availability. If the unit is not properly cared for, the unit will be more likely to fail. Therefore, it is necessary that the maintenance be performed as required. If the skills and resources required for the maintenance of the unit are not available, it may be necessary to select a unit requiring less maintenance.

Determine if affordable

The selected UPS must be affordable. While this is the most limiting factor in the selection process, cost cannot be identified without knowing the other parameters. The pricing of the unit consists of the equipment cost as well as the operating and maintenance costs. Disposal costs of the unit should also be considered for when the unit reaches the end of its life.

Re-evaluate steps

If these criteria are not met, another UPS system must be selected and these steps re-evaluated.


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Cost benefits of AC drives

Cost benefits of AC drives

In addition to their technical advantages, AC drives also provide many cost benefits. In this chapter, these benefits are reviewed, with the costs divided into investment, installation and opera- tional costs.

At the moment there are still plenty of motors sold without variable speed AC drives. This pie chart shows how many motors below 2.2 kW are sold with frequency converters, and how many without. Only 3% of motors in this power range are sold each year with a frequency converter; 97% are sold without an AC drive.
This is astonishing considering what we have seen so far in this guide. Even more so after closer study of the costs of an AC drive compared to conventional control methods. But first let’s review AC drive technology compared to other control methods.

How many motors below 2.2 kW are sold with frequency converters, and how many without

How many motors below 2.2 kW are sold with and without frequency converters


Technical differences between other systems and AC drives

AC drive technology is completely different from other, simpler control methods. It can be compared, for example, to the dif- ference between a zeppelin and a modern airplane.

We could also compare AC drive technology to the develop- ment from a floppy disk to a CD-ROM. Although it is a simpler information storage method, a floppy disk can only handle a small fraction of the information that a CD-ROM can.

The benefits of both these innovations are generally well known. Similarly, AC drive technology is based on a totally different technology to earlier control methods. In this guide, we have presented the benefits of the AC drive compared to simpler control methods.

Technical differences between other systems and AC drives

Technical differences between other systems and AC drives


No mechanical control parts needed

To make a proper cost comparison, we need to study the configurations of different control methods. Here we have used pumping as an example. In traditional methods, there is always a mechanical part and an electrical part.

In throttling you need fuses, contactors and reactors on the electrical side and valves on the mechanical side. In On/Off control, the same electrical components are needed, as well as a pressure tank on the mechanical side. The AC drive provides a new solution. No mechanics are needed, because all control is already on the electrical side.

Another benefit, when thinking about cost, is that with an AC drive we can use a regular 3-phase motor, which is much cheaper than the single phase motors used in other control methods. We can still use 220 V single phase supply, when speaking of power below 2.2 kW.

Conventional methods:AC drive:
• Both electrical and mechanical parts• All in one
• Many electrical parts• Only one electrical component
• Mechanical parts need regular maintenance• No mechanical parts, no wear and tear
• Mechanical control is energy consuming• Saves energy


Factors affecting cost

This list compares the features of conventional control methods with those of the AC drive, as well as their effect on costs. In conventional methods there are both electrical and mechanical components, which usually have to be purchased separately. The costs are usually higher than if everything could be pur- chased at once. Furthermore, mechanical parts wear out quickly. This directly affects maintenance costs and in the long run, maintenance is a very important cost item. In conventional methods there are also many electrical components. The installation cost is at least doubled when there are several different types of components rather than only one.

And last but not least, mechanical control is very energy con- suming, while AC drives practically save energy. This not only helps reduce costs, but also helps minimise environmental impact by reducing emissions from power plants.

Investment costs: Mechanical and electrical components

Price Comparison For Pumps

Price Comparison For Pumps

In this graph, the investment structure as well as the total price of each pump control method is presented. Only the pump itself is not added to the costs because its price is the same regardless of whether it’s used with an AC drive or valves. In throttling, there are two possibilities depending on whether the pump is used in industrial or domestic use. In an industrial environment there are stricter requirements for valves and this increases costs.

The motor
As can be seen, the motor is much more expensive for traditional control methods than for the AC drive. This is due to the 3-phase motor used with the AC drive and the single phase motor used in other control methods.
The AC drive
The AC drive does not need any mechanical parts, which reduc- es costs dramatically. Mechanical parts themselves are almost always less costly than a frequency converter, but electrical parts also need to be added to the total investment cost.
After taking all costs into account, an AC drive is almost always the most economical investment, when compared to differ- ent control methods. Only throttling in domestic use is as low cost as the AC drive. These are not the total costs, however. Together with investment costs we need to look at installation and operational costs.

ThrottlingAC drive
Installation material20 USD10 USD
Installation work5h x 65 USD = 325 USD1h x 65 USD = 65 USD
Commissioning work1h x 65 USD = 65 USD1h x 65 USD = 65 USD
Savings in installation: 270 USD!


Installation costs: Throttling compared to AC drive

Because throttling is the second lowest investment after the AC drive, we will compare its installation and operating costs to the cost of the AC drive. As mentioned earlier, in throttling there are both electrical and mechanical components. This means twice the amount of installation material is needed.

Installation work is also at least doubled in throttling compared to the AC drive. To install a mechanical valve into a pipe is not that simple and this increases installation time. To have a mechanical valve ready for use usually requires five hours compared to one hour for the AC drive. Multiply this by the hourly rate charged by a skilled installer to get the total installation cost.

The commissioning of a throttling-based system does not usu- ally require more time than commissioning an AC drive based system. One hour is usually the time required in both cases. So now we can summarise the total installation costs. As you can see, the AC drive saves up to USD 270 per installation. So even if the throttling investment costs were lower than the price of a single phase motor (approximately USD 200), the AC drive would pay for itself before it has even worked a second.

ThrottlingAC drive
Power required0.75 kW0.37 kW
Annual energy 4000 hours/year 3000 kWh1500 kWh
Annual energy cost with 0.1 USD/kWh300 USD150 USD
Maintenance/year40 USD5 USD
Savings in installation: 185 USD!


Operational costs: Maintenance and drive energy

In many surveys and experiments it has been proved that a 50% energy saving is easily achieved with an AC drive. This means that where power requirements with throttling would be 0.75 kW, with the AC drive it would be 0.37 kW. If a pump is used 4000 hours per year, throttling would need 3000 kWh and the AC drive 1500 kWh of energy per year.
To calculate the savings, we need to multiply the energy con- sumption by the energy price, which varies depending on the country. Here USD 0.1 per kWh has been used.

As mentioned earlier, mechanical parts wear a lot and this is why they need regular maintenance. It has been estimated that whereas throttling requires USD 40 per year for service, maintenance costs for an AC drive would be USD 5. In many cases however, there is no maintenance required for a frequency converter.

Therefore, the total savings in operating costs would be USD 185, which is approximately half of the frequency convert- er’s price for this power range. This means that the payback time of the frequency converter is two years. So it is worth considering that instead of yearly service for an old valve it might be more profitable to change the whole system to an AC drive based control. To retrofit an existing throttling system the pay-back time is two years.

Total cost comparison

Total Savings Over 10 Year - USD 1562

Total Savings Over 10 Year - USD 1562

In the above figure, all the costs have been summarised. The usual time for an operational cost calculation for this kind of investment is 10 years. Here the operational costs are rated to the present value with a 10% interest rate.

In the long run, the conventional method will be more than twice as expensive as a frequency converter. Most of the savings with the AC drive come from the operational costs, and especially from the energy savings. It is in the installation that the high- est individual savings can be achieved, and these savings are realised as soon as the drive is installed.

Taking the total cost figure into account, it is very difficult to understand why only 3% of motors sold have a frequency con- verter. In this guide we have tried to present the benefits of the AC drive and why we at ABB think that it is absolutely the best possible way to control your process.



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Maintenance Of SF6 Gas Circuit Breakers

Maintenance Of SF6 Gas Circuit Breakers

Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6) is an excellent gaseous dielectric for high voltage power applications. It has been used extensively in high voltage circuit breakers and other switchgears employed by the power industry.

Applications for SF6 include gas insulated transmission lines and’gas insulated power distributions. The combined electrical, physical, chemical and thermal properties offer many advantages when used in power switchgears.

Some of the outstanding properties of SF6 making it desirable to use in power applications are:

  • High dielectric strength
  • Unique arc-quenching ability
  • Excellent thermal stability
  • Good thermal conductivity

Properties Of SF6 (Sulfur Hexafuoride) Gas

  • Toxicity – SF6 is odorless, colorless, tasteless, and nontoxic in its pure state. It can, however, exclude oxy­gen and cause suffocation. If the normal oxygen content of air is re­duced from 21 percent to less than 13 percent, suffocation can occur without warning. Therefore, circuit breaker tanks should be purged out after opening.
  • Toxicity of arc products – Toxic decomposition products are formed when SF6 gas is subjected to an elec­tric arc. The decomposition products are metal fluorides and form a white or tan powder. Toxic gases are also formed which have the characteristic odor of rotten eggs. Do not breathe the vapors remaining in a circuit breaker where arcing or corona dis­charges have occurred in the gas. Evacuate the faulted SF6 gas from the circuit breaker and flush with fresh air before working on the circuit breaker.
  • Physical properties – SF6 is one of the heaviest known gases with a den­sity about five times the density of air under similar conditions. SF6 shows little change in vapor pressure over a wide temperature range and is a soft gas in that it is more compressible dynamically than air. The heat trans­fer coefficient of SF6 is greater than air and its cooling characteristics by convection are about 1.6 times air.
  • Dielectric strength – SF6 has a di­electric strength about three times that of air at one atmosphere pressure for a given electrode spacing. The dielectric strength increases with increasing pressure; and at three atmospheres, the dielectric strength is roughly equivalent to transformer oil. The heaters for SF6 in circuit breakers are required to keep the gas from liquefying because, as the gas liquifies, the pressure drops, lowering the dielectric strength. The exact dielectric strength, as compared to air, varies with electrical configuration, electrode spacing, and electrode configuration.
  • Arc quenching – SF6 is approxi­mately 100 times more effective than air in quenching spurious arcing. SF6 also has a high thermal heat capacity that can absorb the energy of the arc without much of a temperature rise.
  • Electrical arc breakdown – Because of the arc-quenching ability of SF6, corona and arcing in SF6 does not occur until way past the voltage level of onset of corona and arcing in air. SF6 will slowly decompose when ex­posed to continuous corona.

All SF6 breakdown or arc products are toxic. Normal circuit breaker operation produces small quantities of arc products during current interruption which normally recombine to SF6. Arc products which do not recombine, or which combine with any oxygen or moisture present, are normally re­moved by the molecular sieve filter material within the circuit breaker.

Handling Nonfaulted SF6

The procedures for handling nonfaulted SF6 are well covered in manufacturer’s instruction books. These procedures normally consist of removing the SF6 from the circuit breaker, filtering and storing it in a gas cart as a liquid, and transferring it back to the circuit breaker after the circuit breaker maintenance has been performed. No special dress or precautions are required when handling nonfaulted SF6.

Handling Faulted SF6


  • Faulted SF6 gas – Faulted SF6 gas smells like rotten eggs and can cause nausea and minor irritation of the eyes and upper respiratory tract. Normally, faulted SF6 gas is so foul smelling no one can stand exposure long enough at a concentration high enough to cause permanent damage.
  • Solid arc products - Solid arc products are toxic and are a white or off-white, ashlike powder. Contact with the skin may cause an irritation or possible painful fluoride burn. If solid arc products come in contact with the skin, wash immediately with a large amount of water. If water is not available, vacuum off arc products with a vacuum cleaner.

Clothing and safety equipment requirements

When handling and re­ moving solid arc products from faulted SF6, the following clothing and safety equipment should be worn:

  • Coveralls – Coveralls must be worn when removing solid arc products. Coveralls are not required after all solid arc products are cleaned up. Disposable coveralls are recommended for use when removing solid arc products; however, regular coveralls can be worn if disposable ones are not available, provided they are washed at the end of each day.
  • Hoods – Hoods must be worn when removing solid arc products from inside a faulted dead-tank circuit breaker.
  • Gloves – Gloves must be worn when solid arc products are hah-died. Inexpensive, disposable gloves are recommended. Non-disposable gloves must be washed in water and allowed to drip-dry after use.
  • Boots – Slip-on boots, non-disposable or plastic disposable, must be worn by employees who enter eternally faulted dead-tank circuit breakers. Slip-on boots are not required after the removal of solid arc products and vacuuming. Nondisposable boots must be washed in water and dried after use.
  • Safety glasses – Safety glasses are recommended when handling solid arc products if a full face respirator is not worn.
  • Respirator – A cartridge, dust-type respirator is required when entering an internally faulted dead-tank circuit breaker. The respirator will remove solid arc products from air breathed, but it does not supply oxygen so it must only be used when there is sufficient oxygen to support life. The filter and cartridge should be changed when an odor is sensed through the respirator. The use of respirators is optional for work on circuit breakers whose in­ terrupter units are not large enough for a man to enter and the units are well ventilated.
    Air-line-type respirators should be used when the cartridge type is ineffective due to providing too short a work time before the cartridge becomes contaminated and an odor is sensed.
    When an air-line respirator is used, a minimum of two working respirators must be available on the job before any employee is allowed to enter the circuit breaker tank.

Disposal of waste

All materials used in the cleanup operation for large quantities of SF6 arc products shall be placed in a 55­ gal drum and disposed of as hazardous waste.

The following items should be disposed of:

  • All solid arc products
  • All disposable protective clothing
  • All cleaning rags
  • Filters from respirators
  • Molecular sieve from breaker and gas cart
  • Vacuum filter element


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Maintenance Of High Voltage Circuit Breakers

Maintenance Of High Voltage Circuit Breakers

Most manufacturers recommend com­plete inspections, external and internal, at intervals of from 6 to 12 months.

Ex­perience has shown that a considerable expense is involved, some of which may be unnecessary, in adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendations of in­ ternal inspections at 6 to 12 month intervals. With proper external checks, part of the expense, delay, and labor of internal inspections may be avoided without sacrifice of dependability.

Inspection schedule for new breakers

A temporary schedule of frequent inspections is necessary after the erection of new equipment, the modification or modernization of old equipment, or the replication of old equipment under different condi­ tions.

The temporary schedule is required to Correct internal defects which ordinarily appear in the first year of service and to correlate external check procedures with internal conditions as a basis for more conservative maintenance program thereafter. Assuming that a circuit breaker shows no serious defects at the early complete inspections and no heavy interrupting duty is imposed, the following inspection schedule is recommended:

.6 months after erection.Complete inspection and adjustment
.12 months after .previous inspection.Complete inspection and adjustment
.12 months after .previous inspection.Complete inspection and adjustment
.12 months after .previous inspection.External checks and inspection; if checks are .satisfactory, no internal inspection
.12 months after .previous inspection.Complete inspection and adjustment


Inspection schedule for existing breakers

The inspection schedule should be based by the interrupting duty imposed on the breaker. It is advisable to make a complete internal inspection after the first severe fault interruption. If internal conditions are satisfactory, progressively more fault interruptions may be allowed before an internal inspection is made. Average experience indicates that up to five fault interruptions are allowable between inspections on 230 kV and above circuit breakers, and up to 10 fault interruptions are allowable on circuit breakers rated under 230 kV.

Normally, no more than 2 years should elapse between external in­ spections or 4 years between internal inspections.

External Inspection Guide

The following items should be included in an external inspection of a high-voltage breaker.

  1. Visually inspect PCB externals and operating mechanism. The tripping latches should be examined with spe­ cial care since small errors in adjustments and clearances and roughness of the latching surfaces may cause the breaker to fail to latch properly or increase the force neces­ sary to trip the breaker to such an extent that electrical tripping will not always be successful, especially if the tripping voltage is low. Excessive “opening” spring pressure can cause excessive friction at the tripping latch and should be avoided. Also, some extra pressure against the tripping latch may be caused by the electro­ magnetic forces due to flow of heavy short-circuit currents through the breaker.
    Lubrication of the bearing surfaces of the operating mechanism should be made as recommended in the manufacturer’s instruction book, but excessive lubrication should be avoided as oily surfaces collect dust and grit and get stiff in cold weather, resulting in excessive friction.
  2. Check oil dielectric strength and color for oil breakers. The dielectric strength must be maintained to pre vent internal breakdown under voltage surges and to enable the interrupter to function properly since its action depends upon changing the internal arc path from a fair conductor to a good insulator in the short interval while the current is passing through zero. Manufacturer’s instructions state the lowest allowable dielectric strength for the various circuit break­ ers. It is advisable to maintain the dielectric strength above 20 kV even though some manufacturer’s instructions allow 16 kV.
    If the oil is carbonized, filtering may remove the suspended particles, but the interrupters, bushings, etc., must be wiped clean. If the dielectric strength is lowered by moisture, an inspection of the fiber and wood parts is advisable and the source of the moisture should be corrected. For these reasons, it is rarely worthwhile to filter the oil in a circuit breaker while it is in service.
  3. Observe breaker operation under load.
  4. Operate breaker manually and electrically and observe for malfunc­ tion. The presence of excessive friction in the tripping mechanism and the margin of safety in the tripping function should be determined by making a test of the minimum voltage required to trip the breaker. This can be accomplished by connecting a switch and rheostat in series in the trip-coil circuit at the breaker (across the terminals to the remote control switch) and a voltmeter across the trip coil. Staring with not over 50 percent of rated trip-coil voltage, gradually in­ crease the voltage until the trip-coil plunger picks up and successfully trips the breaker and record the mini­ mum tripping voltage. Most breakers should trip at about 56 percent of rated trip-coil voltage.
    The trip-coil re­ sistance should be measured and compared with the factor test value to disclose shorted turns.
    Most modern breakers have trip coils which will overheat or burn out if left energized for more than a short pe­ riod. An auxiliary switch is used in series with the coil to open the circuit as soon as the breaker has closed. The auxiliary switch must be properly adjusted and successfully break the arc without damage to the contacts.
    Tests should also be made to deter­ mine the minimum voltage which will close the breaker and the closing coil resistance.
  5. Trip breaker from protective relays.
  6. Check operating mechanism adjustments. Measurements of the mechanical clearances of the operat­ing mechanism associated with the tank or pole should be made. Appre­ ciable variation between the value found and the setting when erected or after the last maintenance overhaul is erected or after the last maintenance overhaul is usually an indication of mechanical trouble. Temperature and difference of temperature between different parts of the mechanism effect the clearances some. The manufacturers’ recommended tolerances usually allow for these effects.
  7. Doble test bushings and breaker.
  8. Measure contact resistance. As long as no foreign material is present, the contact resistance of high-pres- sure, butt-type contacts is practically independent of surface condition. Nevertheless, measurement of the electrical resistance between external bushing terminals of each pole may be regarded as the final “proof of the pudding.” Any abnormal increase in the resistance of this circuit may be an indication of foreign material in contacts, contact loose in support, loose jumper, or loose bushing connection. Any one of these may cause localized heating and deterioration.
    The amount of heat above normal may be readily calculated from the increase in resistance and the current.Resistance of the main contact cir­ cuits can be most conveniently measured with a portable double bridge (Kelvin) or a “Ducter.” The breaker contacts should not be opened during this test because of possible damage to the test equip­ment.
    Table 1
    gives maximum contact resistances for typical classes of breakers.
    .Table 1 | Maximum contact resistances for typical classes of breakers
  9. Make time-travel or motion-analyzer records. Circuit breaker motion an­ alyzers are portable devices designed to monitor the operation of power circuit breakers which permit mechanical coupling of the motion an­ alyzer to the circuit breaker operating rod. These include high-voltage and extra- high-voltage dead tank and SF6 breakers and low-voltage air and vac­ uum circuit breakers.
    Motion analyzers can provide graphic records of close or open initiation signals, contact closing or opening time with respect to initiation signals, contact movement and velocity, and contact bounce or rebound. The records obtained not only indicated when mechanical difficulties are present but also help isolate the cause of the difficulties. It is preferable to obtain a motion-analyzer record on a breaker when it is first installed. This will provide a master record which can be filed and used for comparison with future maintenance checks.
    Tripping and closing voltages should be re­ corded on the master record so subsequent tests can be performed under comparable conditions. Time-travel records are taken on the pole nearest the operating mecha­ nism to avoid the inconsistencies due to linkage vibration and slack in the remote phases..

Internal Inpection Guide – Lines

An internal inspection should include all items listed for an external inspection, plus the breaker tanks or contact heads should be opened and the contacts nd interrupting parts should be inspected. These guidelines are not intended to be a complete list of breaker maintenance but are intended to provide an idea of the scope of each inspection.
A specific checklist should be developed in the field for each type of inspection for each circuit breaker maintained.

Typical Internal Breaker Problems

The following difficulties should be looked for during internal breaker inspections:

  • Tendency for keys, bolts (espe- cially fiber), cotter pins, etc, to come loose.
  • Tendency for wood operating rods, supports, or guides to come loose from clamps or mountings.
  • Tendency for carbon or sludge to form and accumulate in interrupter or on bushings.
  • Tendency for interrupter to flash over and rupture static shield or resis­ tor.
  • Tendency for interrupter parts or barriers to burn or erode.
  • Tendency for bushing gaskets to leak moisture into breaker insulating material.

Fortunately, these difficulties are most likely to appear early in the use of a breaker and would be disclosed by the early internal inspections. As unsatis­ factory internal conditions are corrected and after one or two inspections show the internal conditions to be satisfactory, the frequency of internal inspections may safely be decreased.

Influence Of Duty Imposed


Influence of light duty

Internal inspection of a circuit breaker which has had no interruption duty or switching since the previous inspection will not be particularly beneficial although it will not be a total loss. If the breaker has been energized, but open, erosion in the form or irregular grooves (called tracking) on the inner surface of the interrupter or shields may appear due to electrostatic charging current. This is usually aggravated by a deposit of carbon sludge which has previously been generated by some interrupting operation.
If the breaker has remained closed and carrying current, evidence of heating of the contacts may be found if the contact surfaces were not clean, have oxidized, or if the contact pressure was improper. Any shrinkage and loosening of wood or fiber parts (due to loss of absorbed moisture into the dry oil) will take place following erection, whether the breaker is operated or not. Mechanical operation, however, will make any loosening more evident. It is worthwhile to deliberately impose several switching operations on the breaker before inspection if possible. If this is impossible, some additional information may be gained by operating the breaker several times after it is deenergized, measuring the contact resistance of each pole initially and after each operation.

Influence of normal duty

The relative severity of duty imposed by load switching, line dropping, and fault interruptions depends upon the type of circuit breaker involved. In circuit breakers which employ an oil blast generated by the power arc, the interruption of light faults or the interruption of line charging current may cause more deterioration than the interruption of heavy faults within the rating of the breaker because of low oil pressure. In some designs using this basic principle of interruption, distress at light interrupting duty is minimized by multiple breaks, rapid contact travel, and turbulence of the oil caused by movement of the contact and mech­ anism.

In designs employing a mechanically driven piston to supple­ ment the arc-driven oil blast, the performance is more uniform. Still more uniform performance is usually yielded by designs which depend for arc interruption upon an oil blast driven by mechanical means. In the latter types, erosion of the contacts may appear only with heavy interruptions. The mechanical stresses which accompany heavy interruptions are always more severe.

These variations of characteristic performance among various designs must be considered when judging the need for maintenance from the service records and when judging the performance of a breaker from evidence on inspection. Because of these variations, the practice of evaluating each fault interruption as equivalent to 100 no-load operations, employed by some companies, is necessarily very approximate although it may be a useful guide in the absence of any other information.

Influence of severe duty

Erosion of the contacts and damage from severe mechanical stresses may occur during large fault interruption. The most reliable indication of the stress to which a circuit breaker is subjected during fault interruptions is afforded by automatic oscillograph records. Deterioration of the circuit breaker may be assumed to be proportional to the energy dissipated in the breaker during the interruption.

The energy dissipated is approximately proportional to the current and the duration of arcing; that is, the time from parting of the contacts to interruption of the current. However, the parting of contacts is not always evident on the oscillograms, and it is sometimes necessary to determine this from indicated relay time and the known time for breaker contacts to part. Where automatic oscillograph records are available, they may be as useful in guiding oil circuit breaker maintenance as in showing relay and system performance.

Where automatic oscillographs are not available, a very approximate, but nevertheless useful, indication of fault duty imposed on the circuit breakers may be obtained from relay operation targets and accompanying system conditions. All such data should be tabulated in the circuit breaker maintenance file.



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Maintenance Of Meduim Voltage Circuit Breakers

Maintenance Of Meduim Voltage Circuit Breakers

Medium-voltage circuit breakers rated between 1 and 72 kV may be assembled into metal-enclosed switchgear line ups for indoor use, or may be individual components installed outdoors in a substation. Air-break circuit breakers replaced oil-filled units for indoor applications, but are now themselves being replaced by vacuum circuit breakers (up to about 35 kV).

Medium voltage circuit breakers which operate in the range of 600 to 15,000 volts should be inspected and maintained annually or after every 2,000 operations, whichever comes first.

The above maintenance schedule is recommended by the applicable standards to achieve required performance from the breakers.

Safety Practices

Maintenance procedures include the safety practices indicated in the ROMSS (Reclamation Operation & Maintenance Safety Standards) and following points that require special attention.

  • Be sure the circuit breaker and its mechanism are disconnected from all electric power, both high voltage and control voltage, before it is inspected or repaired.
  • Exhaust the pressure from air receiver of any compressed air circuit breaker before it is inspected or re­paired.
  • After the circuit breaker has been disconnected from the electrical power, attach the grounding leads properly before touching any of the circuit breaker parts.
  • Do no lay tools down on the equipment while working on it as they may be forgotten when the equipment is placed back in service.

Maintenance Procedures For Medium Voltage Air Circuit Breakers

The following suggestions are for use in conjunction with manufacturer’s instruction books for the maintenance of medium voltage air circuit breakers:

  1. Clean the insulating parts including the bushings.
  2. Check the alignment and condition of movable and stationary contacts and adjust them per the manufacturer’s data.
  3. See that bolts, nuts, washers, cotter pins, and all terminal connections are in place and tight.
  4. Check arc chutes for damage and replace damaged parts.
  5. Clean and lubricate the operating mechanism and adjust it as described in the instruction book. If the operat­ing mechanism cannot be brought into specified tolerances, it will usually indicate excessive wear and the need for a complete overhaul.
  6. Check, after servicing, circuit breaker to verify that contacts move to the fully opened and fully closed positions, that there is an absence of friction or binding, and that electrical operation is functional.

Maintenance Procedures For Medium Voltage Oil Circuit Breakers

The following suggestions are for use in conjunction with the manufacturer’s instruction books for the maintenance of medium-voltage oil circuit breakers:

  1. Check the condition, alignment, and adjustment of the contacts.
  2. Thoroughly clean the tank and other parts which have been in con­ tact with the oil.
  3. Test the dielectric strength of the oil and filter or replace the oil if the dielectric strength is less than 22 kV. The oil should be filtered or replaced whenever a visual inspection shows an excessive amount of carbon, even if the dielectric strength is satisfactory.
  4. Check breaker and operating mechanisms for loose hardware and missing or broken cotter pins, retain­ ing rings, etc.
  5. Adjust breaker as indicated in instruction book.
  6. Clean and lubricate operating mechanism.
  7. Before replacing the tank, check to see there is no friction or binding that would hinder the breaker’s operation. Also check the electrical operation. Avoid operating the breaker any more than necessary without oil in the tank as it is designed to operate in oil and mechanical damage can result from excessive operation without it.
  8. When replacing the tank and refilling it with oil, be sure the gaskets are undamaged and all nuts and valves are tightened properly to prevent leak­ age.

Maintenance Procedures For Medium Voltage Vacuum Circuit Breakers

Direct inspection of the primary contacts is not possible as they are enclosed in vacuum containers. The operating mechanisms are similar to the breakers discussed earlier and may be maintained in the same manner. The following two maintenance checks are suggested for the primary contacts:

  1. Measuring the change in external shaft position after a period of use can indicate extent of contact erosion. Consult the manufacturer’s instruction book.
  2. Condition of the vacuum can be checked by a hipot test. Consult the manufacturer’s instruction book.



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Maintenance Of Low Voltage Circuit Breakers

Maintenance Of Low Voltage Circuit Breakers

The deterioration of low voltage circuit breaker is normal and  this process begins as soon as the circuit breaker is installed. If  deterioration is not checked, it can cause failures and malfunctions. The purpose of an electrical preventive maintenance and testing program should be to recognize these factors and provide means for correcting them.

A good organized maintenance program can minimize accidents, reduce unplanned shutdowns and lenghten the mean time between failures of electrical equipment.

Benefits of good electrical equipment maintenance can be reduced cost of process shutdown (caused by circuit breaker failure), reduced cost of repairs, reduced downtime of equipment, improved safety of personnel and property.

Frequency Of Maintenance

Low-voltage circuit breakers operating at 600 volts alternating current and below should be inspected and maintained very 1 to 3 years, depending on their service and operating conditions. Conditions that make frequency maintenance and inspection necessary are:

  1. High humidity and high ambient temperature.
  2. Dusty or dirty atmosphere.
  3. Corrosive atmosphere.
  4. Frequent switching operations.
  5. Frequent fault operations.
  6. Older equipment.

A breaker should be inspected and maintained if necessary whenever it has interrupted current at or near its rated capacity.

Maintenance Procedures

Manufacturer’s instructions for each cir­ cuit breaker should be carefully read and followed. The following are general pro­ cedures that should be followed in the maintenance of low-voltage air circuit breakers:

  1. An initial check of the breaker should be made in the TEST position prior to withdrawing it from to enclo­sure.
  2. Insulating parts, including bushings, should be wiped clean of dust and smoke.
  3. The alignment and condition of the movable and stationary contacts should be checked and adjusted ac­cording to the manufacturer’s instruction book.
  4. Check arc chutes and replaces any damaged parts.
  5. Inspect breaker operating mechanism for loose hardware and missing or broken cotter pins, etc. Examine cam, latch, and roller surfaces for damage or wear.
  6. Clean and relubricate operating mechanism with a light machine oil (SAE-20 or 30) for pins and bearings and with a nonhardening grease for the wearing surfaces of cams, rollers, etc.
  7. Set breaker operating mechanism adjustments as described in the manufacturer’s instruction book. If these adjustments cannot be made within the specified tolerances, it may indicate excessive wear and the need for a complete overhaul.
  8. Replace contacts if badly worn or burned and check control device for freedom of operation.
  9. Inspect wiring connections for tightness.
  10. Check after servicing circuit breaker to verify the contacts move to the fully opened and fully closed positions, that there is an absence of friction or binding, and that electrical operation is functional.

Much of the essence of effective electrical equipment preventive maintenance can be sumarrized by four rules:

  • Keep it DRY
  • Keep it CLEAN
  • Keep it COOL
  • Keep it TIGHT




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Maintenance Of Molded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCB)

Maintenance Of Molded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCB)

The maintenance of circuit breakers deserves special consideration because of their importance for routine switching and for protection of other equipment.

Electric transmission system breakups and equip­ment destruction can occur if a circuit breaker fails to operate because of a lack of preventive maintenance.

The need for maintenance of circuit breakers is often not obvious as circuit breakers may remain idle, either open or closed, for long periods of time. Breakers that remain idle for 6 months or more should be made to open and close several times in succession to verify proper operation and remove any accumulation of dust or foreign material on moving parts and contacts.

Frequency Of Maintenance

Molded case circuit breakers are designed to require little or no routine maintenance throughout their normal life­ time. Therefore, the need for preventive maintenance will vary depending on operating conditions. As an accumulation of dust on the latch surfaces may affect the operation of the breaker, molded case circuit breakers should be exercised at least once per year.

Routine trip testing should be performed every 3 to 5 years.

Routine Maintenance Tests

Routine maintenance tests enable personnel to determine if breakers are able to perform their basic circuit protective functions. The following tests may be performed during routine maintenance and are aimed at assuring that the breakers are functionally operable. The following tests are to be made only on breakers and equipment that are deenergized.

Insulation Resistance Test

A megohmmeter may be used to make tests between phases of opposite polarity and from current-carrying parts of the circuit breaker to ground. A test should also be made between the line and load terminals with the breaker in the open position. Load and line conductors should be dis­ connected from the breaker under insulation resistance tests to prevent test mesurements from also showing resistance of the attached circuit.

Resistance values below 1 megohm are considered unsafe and the breaker should be inspected for pos­ sible contamination on its surfaces.

Milivolt Drop Test

A millivolt drop test can disclose several abnor­ mal conditions inside a breaker such as eroded contacts, contaminated contacts, or loose internal connec­ tions. The millivolt drop test should be made at a nominal direct-current volt­ age at 50 amperes or 100 amperes for large breakers, and at or below rating for smaller breakers. The millivolt drop is compared against manufacturer’s data for the breaker being tested.

Connections Test

The connections to the circuit breaker should be inspected to determine that a good joint is present and that overheating is not occurring. If overheating is indi­ cated by discoloration or signs of arcing, the connections should be re­ moved and the connecting surfaces cleaned.

Overload tripping test

The proper action of the overload tripping components of the circuit breaker can be verified by applying 300 percent of the breaker rated continuous current to each pole. The significant part of this test is the automatic opening of the circuit breaker and not tripping times as these can be greatly affected by ambient conditions and test condi­ tions.

Mechanical operation

The mechanical operation of the breaker should be checked by turning the breaker on and off several times.



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